Saturday's Class 2A state boys basketball championship game between No. 4 Patterson and No. 6 Oakland Mills had quality players, a hungry cast of seniors, all capable of making the difference at the end.
For Oakland Mills, it was no surprise that senior forward Will Robinson Jr. ultimately did.
The 6-foot-4 transfer from St. Frances scored a game-high 26 points, putting Oakland Mills ahead for good with 1:31 left, and added three free throws in the final minute as the Scorpions claimed a 64-55 win at Xfinity Center.
"It's been a long, long, lone road [attending] four different schools," Robinson said. "And I've been through a lot to try to get here, so getting here and winning, it means a lot."
Senior Mamadou Ndiaye added 15 points, Tre'Von Hopkins added 11 and Daniel Kiely scored 10 as Oakland Mills (24-3) captured the program's second state crown and first since 1990. Robinson helped get the Scorpions to the title game by scoring 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, in Friday's 66-61 semifinal win over Oakdale. When his name was announced in the postgame awards ceremony Saturday, the Oakland Mills contingent chanted: "M-V-P!"
"He's a special person, a special kid and he's a special basketball player," Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne said. "He never quits and he is coolest when the pressure is on."
Patterson (22-6), which got a team-high 23 points from senior guard Dereck Oliver, trailed by nine at half and didn't take its first lead, at 50-49, until Richard Hibbert scored with 3:37 left. But the Scorpions answered, with Robinson hitting two free throws on the next possession. And when the Clippers led a second time, 52-51, with 3:07 to play, Robinson again responded with a strong rebound and put-back. Hopkins followed with a basket, Kiely hit two free throws, and the Scorpions were on their way.
With No. 2 Lake Clifton also losing, Saturday marked the first time since 2008 that Baltimore City didn't produce a state champion in any of the four classifications.
The Scorpions started fast and had everybody involved, as four starters scored to build a 16-4 lead. Robinson made the biggest impact, hitting three field goals, the last a 3-pointer that made it 14-2. Down 16-4, the Clippers made good use of the final 2:05 of the first quarter. Gary Blackston hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to narrow Oakland Mill's lead at 16-10 going into the second quarter.
The Clippers relied on 3-point shooting to draw close in the second quarter, with Oliver hitting two and Blackston adding another to help cut the lead to 29-26 with under two minutes to play. But the Scorpions closed on a 8-0 run, including two baskets from Kiely in the final eight seconds, to build the halftime lead to 37-26.
Said Browne: "That's what these guys have been doing all season, persevering and finding ways to win."